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Voters Take Responsibility Seriously, Even When They Don't Like The Choices

Sarah Richardson

Ask a bunch of voters why they bother, especially when there are no “big races,” and Election Day is rainy and cold, and you’ll get answers like “I just always vote” or “I believe it’s important for my voice to be heard.”

Voters such as these don’t care that records show that in off-year or non-presidential elections, voter turnout is generally low, with fewer than half of registered voters bothering to show up.

When St. Louis Public Radio asked, through our Public Insight Network, why this election mattered, responses left no doubt that for these voters, the democratic process is alive and well. Even though some said they were disappointed with their choices, they still stressed that voting is important — a right and a duty. Following is a sample of responses received. They have been edited for clarity or length.

Sarah Richardson, 38, of Webster Groves

“None of the issues (or) proposed amendments compelled me to vote this time. It truly was just my belief in voting as a civic duty that took me to the polls this morning.

“Similarly, no particular candidate made me excited to vote today.

“It is a strange election, this year. Odd constitutional amendments being proposed, and offices to fill, which seem to have little importance. This is the first election I have felt that way about that I can remember.”

 Jeanette Mott Oxford, 60, of St. Louis

“I vote every election because I am so thankful for those who struggled to secure voting rights. This year

Jeannette Mott Oxford
Public Insight Network
Jeannette Mott Oxford

voting no on the constitutional amendments was my priority. Amendment 2 is a heart-breaker. Proponents hope it will help end sexual violence toward children, and I support that goal 100 percent.

“Still, allowing unproven allegations not related to the current charge to be entered as evidence in a trial holds dangers.

“The other three amendments (3, 6, and 10) are not worthy of being in our constitution. Six and 10 are deceptive, and three does nothing to address the greatest barriers to school success and persistence to graduation.

“The candidate on the ballot that I took the great joy marking was to retain Judge (Laura Denvir) Stith on the Supreme Court.

“Negative ads are so harmful to our fabric as a community. Isn't it time we rise above this?

(Mott Oxford is a former Missouri state representative. She is the executive director of the Missouri Association for Social Welfare.)

Ronald Hodges, 60, of Kirkwood

“I really hope that whoever wins the St. Louis County executive seat works hard to make things better for our young people and help bring about changes in St. Louis County as well as working with St. Louis officials to help create jobs for many people, as well as recreation to help keep children involved and off the streets.

Erik Olsen, 42, of Ferguson

He was concerned about “potentially good laws being proposed as constitutional amendments. That is no what our state's Constitution is for. I felt the need to vote against these, as they are the incorrect vehicle for issues such as education and potential double jeopardy.”

Olsen favored Joe Passanise, the Constitution Party candidate for St Louis County executive. “He called for increased community interaction with (County Council) measures and committees, something that would go a long way to resolving issues in the community.

“I voted 'None Of The Above' for all unopposed candidates. I do not like the 'gentleman's agreement' between the two main parties that is exhibited. No candidate should have a 'cake walk,' all should have to work to keep their jobs.

“With our 'First Past the Post' system, a 'N-O-T-A' vote majority should result in all parties interested in that position getting an even run at it in a special election. If they want to avoid this, they can put forward candidates or open up the ballot to more parties. This would reduce the amount of power that the Sinquefields hold over our elected officials.

Peggy Kruse, 71, of St. Peters

“We moved to St. Peters in December 2012. Our previous experiences voting in Old Jamestown in far north St. Louis County, and also in Camden County were very good and there was sufficient parking and space in the buildings.

“That has not been the case in St. Charles County. Voting space just inside an elementary school is limited and the parking lot was full, I assume with teachers and workers cars, which could have been parked behind the building so voters didn't have to walk so far in the rain. Luckily, I don't have major disabilities but it would be difficult for those who do to get to the polling area.”

Frank Absher, 67, of St. Louis

“The motivation behind my vote was to send a message that the current situation in government (all levels) is not acceptable.

Joan Suarez, 76, of St. Louis

Joan Suarez
Joan Suarez

“Voting against each and every proposed amendment to the Missouri Constitution was at the top of my list for the election today. While I support ballot initiatives on issues the legislature refuses to move on, like raising the state minimum wage, I am horrified by the efforts to constantly re-make the Missouri Constitution.

“I am always torn in my mind over the election of judges. I was appalled by the pouring of money into the Cole County judges' race but on the other hand, I often end up voting yes for judges whom I don't know and have no knowledge about.”

Roger Power, 71, of St. Louis

“Participation in the civic process is a choice for most people, and they choose not to participate. For me, it is an obligation to express my approval or disapproval of a candidate or a measure.”

James Overholt, 40, of Park Hills, Mo.

“There was an election. I vote during elections."

Debra Shatoff of University City

“I wanted to demonstrate that all the money thrown into this election by super PACs and 'not-for-profits' (negative TV ads), and to all those who want to throw their money around to steal our precious democracy from the little man or woman isn't allowed in the voting booth with me. The sad fact, though, is that this dark money comes from all sides. This is discouraging.”

John Glass, 62, of Affton

“No one made a convincing argument. A lot of talk on non-issues or issues that they really can't control. The county exec can't do much for the schools.

Being close to our sister state, Illinois, their commercials really turned me off on both sides."

John Harris 68, of St. Louis

“Amendment against tenure for teacher. Experienced teachers should be running the show, not bozo, ex-driver's-ed-type administrators.

 The number of people I know, in the city, who feel it is pointless to vote is shocking."

Julia Conway, 56, of Maplewood

She was “very concerned about (an) extremist super majority in Missouri.”

“I am focused on only supporting candidates who support sensible gun regulations, reproductive rights and who do not seek to make the voting process more difficult.”

Doreen Dodson, 72, of Kirkwood

She was concerned about “all of the amendments on the ballot. They are all ill-considered.”

What mattered “for me (was) the incredible impact of non-party, outside-organization money in so many (contests) around the country. Regionally, an expose of the money brought in at the end against the judge in Jefferson City.”

Kate Haggans, 64 of University City

“I always vote. It always matters to me, and I want everyone to own the vote.

“None (of the races) in particular (made a positive impression). The county executive races — both primary and general — disturbed me. I haven’t liked any of the choices I ended up making.”

Barbara Finch, 76,  of University City

“I voted against all the amendments. I’m sick and tired of Missouri legislators trying to govern by amendment. Besides, all of the proposals were deeply flawed.

“In this election, I voted as much against candidates as I did for candidates. And, for the first time ever in my voting history, I wrote in the name of a candidate.”

Inform our coverage

This report contains information gathered with the help of our Public Insight Network. To learn more about the network and how you can become a source, please click here.

Outreach specialist Linda Lockhart has been telling stories for most of her life. A graduate of the University of Missouri's School of Journalism, she has worked at several newspapers around the Midwest, including the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, as a reporter, copy editor, make-up editor, night city editor, wire editor, Metro Section editor and editorial writer. She served the St. Louis Beacon as analyst for the Public Insight Network, a product of Minnesota Public Radio and American Public Media that helps connect journalists with news sources. She continues using the PIN to help inform the news content of St. Louis Public Radio. She is a St. Louis native and lives in Kirkwood.